KTM’s factory riders Marc Coma and Cyril Despres continued to dominate in stage two of the Morocco Rally with Despres winning the stage and moving into the overall lead by a very slim 37 seconds from his teammate Coma.
The two riders, both multiple Dakar Rally winners are using the final rally of the season to fine-tune their skills and KTM 450 Rally bikes ahead of the 2013 Dakar Rally that starts January 5 in South America.
The second stage took riders 359 km through the desert of which 315 km was timed and Despres, who finished third in Monday’s opening stage, crossed the line 1 minute 45 ahead of Spain’s Coma.
Runner up, Coma remarked after the race that it had been a very long stage crossing the Erg Chebbi dunes. He had first overtaken Rodrigues and all three riders stuck together throughout the stage.
Helder Rodrigues, fresh from winning the first stage of the Morocco Rally, today had the difficult task of opening the track in a demanding 315 km stage, characterized by very difficult navigation and 22 kms of dunes of the Erg Chebbi to cross from south to north. A very high sun made the navigation even tougher.
Rodrigues is third in the overall standings, just 51 seconds behind the leader Despres.
“It was a very demanding day and opening the track crossing 22 kms of dunes, without any references except your road book is quite tough,” confirmed Rodrigues. “The first part of the stage was fast and very navigated, then I had a hard job opening the track in the dunes with a very high sun and finally, in the last 100 kms we had a very good fight with Marc in the end, like in a motocross race. In general, I’m satisfied with today’s result, I started first and crossed the finish line first. The CRF 450 Rally is working really well, my congratulations to Honda for having worked hard to give me such a good machine in 4 months of work”.
The Husqvarna Team by Speedbrain rider, Joan Barreda, finished the day well with Barreda in fourth place just a minute away from a podium place. Barreda who made a mistake some nine km (six miles) into the race and dropped back several places, was able to deal well with the situation and managed to pull back to within three minutes of the winner.
“I got off to a swift start to try and make up some time, but I made a mistake nine kilometres into the race,” mentioned Barreda. “I lost a lot of time trying to find the right route. Nevertheless, I’m happy with the way I pulled back close to the first three. The bike is going really well and there is still a long way to go in the rally.”
Barreda’s teammate, Paulo Goncalves rode in a good race to come in seventh, and keeps a firm grip on fifth overall.
“Today was a really tough day with such a lot of navigating to do,” said Goncalves. “I raced well until the refuelling, then I started to lose time looking for the right route. But anyway, I’m happy with the way the race has gone up until now. The bike’s great and I think that it’s good preparation for the Dakar.”
Results Stage Two
1, Cyril Despres, France, KTM at 3 hours 34.14
2, Marc Coma, Spain, KTM at 1 minute 45
3, Helder Rodrigues, Portugal, Honda at 3.11
4, Joan Barrera, Spain, Husqvarna at 3.26
5, David Casteu, France, Yamaha at 6.02
6, Chaleco Lopez, Chile, KTM, 7.12
Overall Standings after Stage 2
1, Despres, 6 hour 36.24
2, Coma +37sec
3, Rodrigues +51sec
4, Barreda +11min 47sec
5, Goncalves +18min 29sec